The week's good news: February 23, 2017
It wasn't all bad!
Via Facebook, Ohio police officer helps fifth-grader with her homework
When Lena Draper, 10, needed someone to help her with a math problem, she decided the best person for the job was a police officer. She messaged the Marion Police Department in Ohio on Facebook, and soon received a response from Lt. B.J. Gruber, who advised her to work within the parentheses first, moving from left to right. Draper's mother, Molly, saw the exchange between her daughter and Gruber, and told CBS News she was "happy, but not surprised" that someone from the department responded so quickly. "They are wonderful with their communication with the community." Molly shared on her own Facebook page the messages between Lena and Gruber, and even though his instructions weren't 100 percent accurate, Gruber hopes everyone remembers "it is truly the thought that counts."
School bus driver builds ramp for student in wheelchair
It's now easier than ever for Verna DeSpain to wheel her 10-year-old daughter, Lydia, into their Clarksville, Tennessee, home. She previously had to use a folding aluminum ramp that didn't reach the top step to get Lydia inside, but after Thomas Mitchell, a school bus mechanic and Lydia's substitute bus driver, saw how difficult the process was, he decided to do something about it. An area Lowe's provided the materials Mitchell needed for free, and over the course of a day, Mitchell and a group of friends built a permanent ramp for Lydia. Lydia is nonverbal, but her mother told Today she knew her daughter was thrilled by the act of kindness. "I told her, 'This is all about you,'" DeSpain said. "'They're here for you.' She just gets really excited."
This foster father has taken care of more than 40 terminally ill children
For more than two decades, Mohamed Bzeek has opened his home to terminally ill foster children, ensuring they spend their final days knowing they are loved. "It's my faith," he told ABC Los Angeles. "I take those kids. I know they need somebody. I know there is not many people for them." Bzeek came to the U.S. from Libya in 1978, and his late wife suggested they become foster parents in 1989; six years later, they started taking care of terminally ill kids, and Bzeek has been a foster father to more than 40 dying children. "They put them in a facility or send them to the hospital," he said. "They never have family. I will take them and they have family, and when they die, they die with their family."
In Kenya, this volunteer is dedicated to delivering water to thirsty animals
By now, the elephants, antelopes, and zebras know the sound of the water truck, and wait patiently as their dry waterhole is replenished with what Patrick Kilonzo Mwalau calls a "very precious commodity." Mwalau is the founder of Tsavo Volunteers, which brings water to parched areas of Tsavo, Kenya, where animals are desperate for a drink. Heavy rains aren't expected until November, and at least four times a week, Mwalau and his team rent trucks that deliver 12,000 liters of water to two different watering holes 27 miles away. Each truck costs $250, and Mwalau has started a GoFundMe to help with the costs. "Elephants are becoming endangered from poaching and we need to save the ones we have left by providing water for them until the drought peril is over," he said.
These teens built a roller coaster in their backyard, and it got them into college
Their high school classmates and teachers didn't think it could be done, but J.T. Nejedlo and Aidan Deaven proved them all wrong by building a working roller coaster in Deaven's Delafield, Wisconsin, backyard. When Nejedlo was a sophomore and Deaven a freshman, they decided it "would be fun" to build a roller coaster, Nejedlo told TMJ4. After lots of trial and error — and assistance from a father who used to be a physics professor — the teens built a coaster that starts inside an old treehouse and weaves its way around the yard. In their college applications, the teens wrote about this massive undertaking, and it helped them gain admittance to the University of Wisconsin — Nejedlo is a freshman studying business, and Deaven will begin taking engineering classes next year.